In the recently released “State of the Climate” report from the National Climatic Data Center, America learned that 55 percent of the contiguous United States is considered to be in a “moderate” to “extreme” drought.
This is the worst drought we have seen since the 1950s. Farmers in the most severe areas are being ordered to stop irrigation. Have you gone food shopping lately? Have you noticed the price increases? We can expect to see more increases this fall when our farmers attempt to harvest smaller corn and soybean crops.
OK, my friends. Let’s get it out of our systems. At the same time, let’s shout one big collective “Help!” Feel better? What we need now is super-Sen. Chuck Schumer to the rescue. Many years ago, when Schumer was in the House of Representatives, he called a press conference to whine about the high cost of corn flakes. He spoke about the evil folks at Post and Kellogg’s and how they are hurting us with their price increases of this very necessary breakfast staple. I remember him holding a box of Corn Flakes in the air as he shouted about putting these famous corporations on notice.
Within the next few months the major manufacturers of corn flakes reduced their prices and, of course, the letter I received from a Schumer aid, supposedly signed by Chuck himself, boasted that our representative deserves credit for that.
I almost swallowed it until I had a talk with the manager of the supermarket on Rockaway Parkway. Mr. Manager laughed as he showed me the new products in the breakfast aisle along with the current prices. It seems that Canarsie customers were reaching out for the less expensive house brands. Just as many of us have moved toward generic medications, we were and still are looking to save 15, 20 and even 25 percent by buying the house brands. The price of corn flakes went down, not because of a press conference. It went down because America changed its eating habits and with so many food price increases due by the end of the year, customers will be looking for less-expensive substitutes again.
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The recent furor about a Democratic strategist saying that Ann Romney never worked a day in her life reminded me of something that was said several years ago.
How could a simple household ingredient like ketchup be affected by one’s politics? It wasn’t that many years ago that the supermarkets in my Brooklyn community carried one brand of ketchup, Heinz. When my roommate asked me to add ketchup to my shopping list, I brought home the only brand that was on the shelves, Heinz. The only decisions I had to make were do I want the small, medium, large, or extra large? And Do I want my ketchup in a glass container or the plastic squeeze bottle? That was it.
Then a man named Kerry came along and ran for the office of president of the United States of America. In a matter of days we were introduced to Mrs. Kerry, Teresa Heinz, of the Heinz billion-dollar estate. Included in her many unpopular comments was when she said that the first lady, Laura Bush, never held a real job. She did apologize when she learned that the first lady was a schoolteacher and a librarian.
By then America also learned that along with her mega-marvelous humanitarian accomplishments, Ms. Heinz, the philanthropist, also had an unpopular big mouth. Many on the right found it necessary to boycott Heinz ketchup. Even though it is still the number-one brand at supermarkets all over the world and is still a great big moneymaker, there are now competitive brands on the shelves. Hunts, Del Monte, Flavorite, Cheng’s and Clear Value are there. Who would ever guess that politics would play a roll in selecting condiments?
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And on the subject of droughts I vividly remember Mayor Ed Koch telling New Yorkers about the rules during the water shortages of the ’80s. No filling of swimming pool. You cannot wash your car. Forget about watering your lawn. But my very favorite was what became known to us as the “Mayor Koch toilet-water poem.” I am StanGershbein@Bellsouth.net offering you his marvelous rhyme:
“If it’s yellow, let it mellow.
If it’s brown, flush it down.”
Read Stan Gershbein's column every Monday on BrooklynDaily.com.